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Love bomb

October 15, 2021

I was introduced to ‘love languages’ (there are 5 btw) by my wife when we started getting serious about life together. She revealed that hers was ‘Words of affirmation’ (if you’re interested, the others are ‘acts of service’, ‘receiving of gifts’, ‘quality time’ and ‘physical touch’) and that I was coming up short in that department. There were not enough compliments and appreciation coming her way, for her liking. It wasn’t that I wasn’t thinking nice things, it’s just that I wasn’t articulating them, because I just assumed she knew.

Blame it on time (too busy), blame it on the lads (where taking the piss = love, and actually saying nice stuff to someone gets a raised eyebrow). Blame it on feeling uncomfortable delivering it (can feel a bit saccharine and schmaltzy)… Blame it on what you like, it was time to up my game!

The thing is, when you do take the time to compliment people and share what it is you appreciate about a person, in Upping your Elvis speak, you Love bomb someone. And it does up your game. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s a superpower. My wife is not alone. Everyone has a real need to feel appreciated and valued.It will open doors to better conversations, more positive exchanges, and ultimately better relationships both at home and at work. I agree with Benjamin Disraeli (Brit PM in 1870’s) when he said: “The greatest good you can do for another is not to share your riches, but to reveal theirs.”

The truth is we love to hear good stuff about us. We need it. Our confidence, self-belief, swagger, openness and energy are all fuelled by appreciation. And now we need it more than ever. We’ve become efficient, transactional Zoom zombies and as a result we’re more lonely, disconnected and more unloved than ever before.

We’re left to make sense of things on our own, which is never a good idea. Not least because we’re all mentally hardwired with a negativity bias, which was great for survival back when we were Cavemen and things ate us, but it's terrible for thriving in today’s world because we become our own worst cynics. That voice we all have in our head (if you’re saying to yourself “what voice?” that’s the voice!) is rarely bigging you up. It’s usually finding fault and picking holes when we need the people around us to big us upHere’s some interesting data from a study by the University of Washington; people that receive regular appreciation are 5 times more engaged and productive at work and in successful long-term relationships, an average day has 9 positive to 1 negative interactions.

The problem is, especially in our work relationships, we focus too much on the developmental.Appreciation is like a muscle. You need to use it to make it stronger. Even though we know the power appreciation has, sometimes we just don’t get around to practicing it on a regular basis. Robyn Stratton-Berkessel, a respected leader in organizational development, advises: “What you focus on, grows.” This is a big shift from the traditional view of organisational life where we are rewarded to focus first on mistakes and problems, while the strengths and best assets get taken for granted. This human pattern is built into our evolutionary need for survival: people shut down (or attack) when faced with threat, and they open up (and include) when they feel safe. When one’s mind and heart is open, positive emotions, thoughts and actions follow.

So it's time to Love Bomb and here are a few top tips:

  • Prime yourself – Dial up your appetite, awareness and selective attention for love bombing. Love Bomb at least one person a day. It doesn’t have to be big stuff, just notice when you enjoy something someone did and notice this as a trigger to Love Bomb!
  • Don’t rush it, revel in it. Negative feedback is like Velcro to the brain. That experience gets immediately routed to the amygdala, where our long term memory lives. Positive feedback is like Teflon and for it to make it to your long term memory, you have to hold that moment for a minimum of 12 seconds. So make the Love Bomb count by holding the space.
  • Be in the moment. There’s nothing like giving feedback in the moment, when the feelings and memories are at their most vivid. Your passion, intent and delivery will also be that much more genuine and authentic.
  • Them not the work. The more powerful, impactful, meaningful feedback is always on the stuff about them as a person, and who they are, rather than the work they’ve done.
  • Make it a habit and get good at it. In our workshops, people struggle on day one with hearing good stuff about themselves. By day 3 they can’t get enough. It’s like a muscle, if you practise it you get good at it.
  • Demand it of yourself. If you dish it out, take the opportunity to ask for some in return.

I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t enjoy hearing what it is that people love about them. I also haven’t met someone who doesn’t have the time to find a person each day, in or out of work, and tell them what you appreciate about them as the unique human being that they are.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to tell my wife why she’s great!

Photo by Michael Fenton on Unsplash